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Some of our Projects

The projects listed here are just a brief sample of what ASC does. More information about other ASC projects can be found in our Annual Report (3 MB).

41 Tehama Street, San Francisco (Urban Archaeology)

ASC's excavations at 41 Tehama Street revealed archaeological remains from the Gold Rush and later eras. Of the features identified and excavated, analysis found four archaeological features to be eligible to the California Register of Historical Resources—one historic-period landscape feature, and three historic-period privies.

The landscape feature was determined to be a footpath constructed during the Gold Rush period, formed from the redeposited soils of a prehistoric midden. The contents of the three privies were associated with immigrant families living at the site in the 1870s, whose social status occupied a liminal space between the working class and middle classes. Historical documents relate how members of each family experienced shifts in personal fortune that were tied to shifts in professional occupation and social standing. The interpretation of the privy deposits discusses Victorian values, class identity, and consumerism as reflected by material culture, exploring the strategies used by those families to maintain their class positions under difficult and changing conditions, successfully or unsuccessfully.

The 41 Tehama interpretive page gives the public a brief look at the families of 41 Tehama.

Eureka Mills (Historical Archaeology and Interpretation)

Eureka Mills was a small gold-mining town in the high Sierra Nevada during the last quarter of the 19th-century. It began when the London-based Plumas Eureka Gold Mining Company consolidated Gold Rush-era claims, opened a new mine portal into Eureka Peak, and constructed the Mammoth Mill near the adit. The small town complete with numerous family dwellings, businesses and schoolhouse formed around the Company’s buildings and crowded boarding house. Within a decade a new stamp mill built downslope replaced the Mammoth and another town, Johnsville) developed nearby. Eureka Mills slowly declined and when the company halted operations by the end of the century the town was abandoned. DPR elected to thin the forest that has been establishing in the ruins of Eureka Mills, and ASC participated in the project by subsequently recording the remains and helping design an interpretive panel. The project rekindled the park association to lead new tours to the site, and monitor it closely for signs of vandalism. ASC designed a new interpretive panel that has been installed at the site.

Central Subway (Urban Archaeology)

San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) is constructing the Central Subway from King Street in the South of Market area to Chinatown. The undertaking will eventually comprise several miles of underground tunnels, one surface station, three subway station facilities, and support facilities. ASC has been assisting the Central Subway Partnership with their cultural resources compliance needs since 2010. We have prepared numerous planning documents including program and site-specific research designs and treatment plans, monitoring and testing plans, and testing and data recovery reports. Both prehistoric and historic-era resources are being addressed. A large stratified prehistoric midden was encountered in multiple construction areas. The 1,400 to 3,000 year old deposit contained an outstanding collection of fish and fowl bone. Three dimensional rendering helped understand the shape and nature of the deeply buried deposit. Historic-era components recovered include an 1860s privy of early Jewish settlers and a basement associated with Chinatown’s garment industry. Archival research and oral history discovered the collection belonged to Chan Hing Wong, a merchant and editor of the Chinese Free Press.

Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park (Mining Landscapes)

The North Bloomfield Gravel Mining Company’s Malakoff Mine is the best-known hydraulic mine in the world. It is on the National Register of Historic Places as the Humbug Diggins – North Bloomfield Historic District. One of its legacies is a huge and colorful open pit that now drains sediment and potentially heavy metals into the Humbug, Yuba, and Sacramento watersheds. Planning is underway to address the problem. ASC and DPR initiated a multi-year project to inventory the 3,000-acre park and evaluate the significance of identified resources. The scale of the resource also demands that a landscape study be carried out. ASC began the inventory phase, relying heavily on prior surveys and aerial LIDAR. Using our expertise with gold-mining resources, we have reconstructed the complex evolution of the large Malakoff operation from its inception in the 1850s by French-speaking immigrants until its abandonment in the early 20th century, long after the famous Sawyer Decision of 1884, which prohibited hydraulic mines from dumping debris into the valley.

Amache Digitization Project (Public Interpretation)

Dana Shew and Adrian Praetzellis were awarded a Common Heritage grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities in support of the Amache Digitization Project. The project focuses on digitizing photographs, objects, documents, and memories to preserve and share the experiences of World War II Japanese American internment at Colorado’s internment camp, Amache. Although the Amache Museum and other repositories have very rich and full collections, many former Amacheans and their descendants still have countless items in their personal collections. The Amache Digitization Project encourages those with Amache-related objects to participate in the project so that the memories, experiences, and lessons represented by these objects will be preserved and shared. A Day of Digitization was held in April at the Enmanji Buddhist Temple in Sebastopol with the help of the Sonoma County Japanese American Citizens League. An exhibit at the Sonoma State Library Art Gallery in Fall 2016, "Creativity Unconfined: Life in a World War II Japanese American Internment Camp," highlighted the creativity that persisted in camp despite the harsh and unjust conditions.

The digital database created through this project will soon be available to the public through the Sonoma State University Library Special Collections and the CSU-wide Japanese American Digitization Project website.

Joshua Tree National Park (Prehistoric Archaeology)

The ASC conducted archaeological research at Joshua Tree National Park through our cooperative agreement with the National Park Service from 2007 until 2015. A wide breadth of field studies has been completed, including numerous site condition assessments, multiple large surveys, and archaeological excavation. Findings combined with ongoing research went into development of an Archaeological Overview and Assessment for the park that summarizes 40 years of archaeology, assesses the archaeological sensitivity of various zones, and provides recommendations for future research. Evaluation efforts concluded that many sites are eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places as elements of the Southern Wonderland of Rocks National Register District.